Rick Santorum's Only Chance

The face of a future president?

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

If it's a social conservative Republican voters seek, Rick Santorum will be only one of many options. Better for the former Pennsylvania senator, who announced his candidacy for president Wednesday, to emphasize his other persona: champion of America's hard-pressed working class.

As Santorum wrote in his book "Blue Collar Conservatives": "If conservatives got the vote of every job creator in the country, we'd still lose. We must earn a large portion of the votes of jobholders, because there are far more of them."

In the 2012 presidential race, Santorum won almost a dozen primaries and caucuses. He can be a passionate advocate for his views -- though his occasional rhetorical flourishes continue to get the better of him. “Let's bomb them back to the 7th Century,” he said of Islamic State earlier this month. Talking about single mothers in his 1994 Senate campaign, he suggested that politicians shouldn't be afraid of "kicking them in the butt."

It's the kind of comment that attracts the wrong kind of attention -- to Santorum and to the Republican debate. Instead, he should stick to his vow to highlight "the folks that have been left behind by an economy that isn’t producing enough jobs or the kind of jobs that will help those with lower skills to improve their skills and improve their economic status.”

That's a message with serious policy implications. It will be instructive to hear Santorum elaborate on them.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.